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Wednesday, April 30

Animal Therapy for Asperger's Syndrome

April is Autism Awareness Month and as it is drawing to a close, I wanted to post at least once more on autism and the way it affects individuals.

Many of my readers already know that my grandson, Brandon, has Asperger's Syndrome. In March 2007, I saw an article in our local paper about the farm where I take the boys. It focused on animal therapy for individuals with disabilities both visible and invisible. It mentioned that animal therapy could aid those on the autism spectrum. I phoned the farm and made an appointment for Brandon to be assessed.

The farm accepted Brandon for animal therapy. Shortly thereafter, I had Jordan assessed. Both boys were eligible and so started our weekly trips to the farm.

At that time, there were numerous goats and horses at the farm. The boys saw pregnant goats, met the babies when they were born and experienced farm life. They bonded with the animals and learned about life and death. Because I grew up on the farm I wanted them to experience the circle of life and to understand that life is fragile. I also wanted them to benefit from the animal therapy.

Brandon has come a long way in the last year. He has learned to do things that he said he would never be able to do. He learned that he could sit with a baby goat on his lap and whisper his deepest fears and his secrets in its ear. He had no fear of that baby goat telling anyone what his feelings were. He didn't have to worry about the goat laughing at him or bullying him. The goat didn't care that he was different or that he thought a different way. The goat only wanted his love and to return that affection.

Today when I picked the boys up for the farm, Brandon was having a bad day. By the time we got to the farm, he was having a meltdown - not a major one, but a meltdown just the same. He said he was tired. He said he was sad. He didn't really know what he wanted to say, nor did he know what to do about it. At first he wouldn't get out of the car and so Jordan and I got out and left him. Sometimes that is the best thing we can do - give Brandon some quiet time. It didn't take long for him to get out of the car and we went to the barn. It was a chilly day with a strong wind and he complained all the way. I just kept the boys moving.

Once we were in the barn, Brandon headed to the stall where Matthew, the lamb and Chrissy, the baby goat are penned together. The babies were vying for Brandon's attention and it wasn't long until he was interacting with the animals. Then we saw Crackers lying in the paddock. I immediately wondered what was up as horses don't often lie down. We kept our eye on her and eventually she got up and was walking away from us. She was walking funny and I wondered if she was having some problems, but the more we watched her, the more we realized that there was something wrong with her back leg. She was lame and limping.

Brandon got so caught up with the animals that he forgot about his own troubles. He was in a much better mood as we headed home. The animals had worked their magic in his life once again.

Animal therapy has helped both of the boys a great deal, but I think it has helped Brandon the most in some ways. They are both learning lessons in the realities of life by watching the happenings on the farm. I would recommend animal therapy for anyone who is experiencing either physical or mental challenges.

Research has proven that animal therapy is good for people who are on the autism spectrum and Brandon has definitely benefited from having the animals in his life.

If you would like to read more about Asperger's and animal therapy, there is a good article HERE! Have a great Wednesday and remember to be kind to those who are different. Wouldn't this world be a dull place if we were all the same? ~Blessings, Mary~

23 comments:

  1. Thank-you for this post and the link.....Mary

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  2. Mary, this is a very sweet post, I enjoyed reading it.

    Glad to see you are a fellow tea drinker like me too!

    Katherine

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  3. Such a precious post, bless you.

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  4. Animals are wonderful.they do great things..and God gave them to us!!
    love ya
    Deena

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  5. Very interesting Mary. Now i think I understand better how the farm experience works for your grandsons.

    I know my animals can always bring a smile to my face and they always seem to appreciate whatever you do for them.

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  6. I loved reading about 'whispering the deepest fears' into the goats ears. You know, animal therapy like you just mentioned is good for us ALL!! We humans NEED animals in our lives to prosper, grow and learn.

    I loved this.

    Golly, I can't believe that tomorrow is May Day already.

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  7. Interesting would be an understatement. I find this fascinating. Thanks for posting it!

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  8. It does us all good to place others' needs before our own, which is love in its purest form, I think. So why wouldn't caring for and interacting with animals benefit those who need a little fine tuning in dealing with their feelings and emotions?

    Hope your Wednesday is a good one, Mary. :o)

    Love and hugs,

    Diane

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  9. Mary
    What a touching post about Brandon and the animal therapy.
    Snowball was a handsome dog and the story and pictures were sweet.
    Peace

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  10. Thanks for sharing! I wish everyone had your way of thinking about people who are different!! Bless you dear Mary!! Love and Hugs Grams

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  11. I sure hope you don't mind if I combine two comments into one.

    As I work in home health area I notice that the ones with pets always seems to do much better then the ones who don't
    Both physical and mental.

    Last Sunday was my first posting as for Sunday green thumb

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  12. What a wonderful post showing the part animals can play in the life of a child. They really can make a difference. Also a lovely tribute to your dear dog that you had for so many years. They certainly have a way of becoming a member of our families don't they? Two great posts!!

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  13. So glad that Brandon has some friends to talk to and help him. Animals are the most loving of creatures and I can see how they can help so many.

    God bless.

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  14. That was so great..... and I loved reading about 'whispering the deepest fears' into the goats ears. When you talked about going to the Farm I did not know it was for therapy for the boys...... What a wonderful place...... God knew that we would need animals! He is so smart........ Your post was wonderful as usual.... I always enjoy reading about your day.......

    Hugs

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  15. Well I don't know if God would call it therapy...but in those times when I can't get my eyes of me and what is going on.....He will often bring someone or something into my life to sidetrack my thinking. I become involved with them and my things seem to become less huge.
    Yes, sometimes therapy from God is just what I need. :)
    I am glad you have this place available for the boys.

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  16. Mary,

    I am very happy that Brandon and Jordan go to the farm. I can see from your posts that being with the animals is great for each of them. I never thought about the positive impact animals could have on children with Asperger's Syndrome. But since I have been reading about Brandon's experience, I realize this is one of those ideas that makes such good sense, it's a wonder that no one thought of it sooner. I read a long time ago that just patting a dog can lower a person's blood pressure.

    Hugs,
    Tina

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